Wallan Panthers are full of confidence ahead of the Big V women’s division 2 finals series.
In their first Big V season, the Panthers finished the regular season second on the lladder with a 16-4 record.
A top two spot earned them a week off in the opening round of the finals. They return to the court on Saturday night for the first game of the best of three semi finals series against Mornington, with a grand final spot on the line.
Panthers’ coach Warren Taylor said after a mixed middle part of the season, the side had returned to form in the last part of the season.
“We won our last four games holding our opponents to an average 46 points per game and we feel confident and think we are well placed for a solid finals campaign.
“A 38 point turnaround at Keysborough, a 25 point performance from Megan Marasco against Altona and the best team win we have had against finals bound Blackburn in our last regular season game are all been strong signs that we are in as good a spot as we can be to make it to the last weekend of the year.”
He said the Blackburn game was especially pleasing as it was against a side in the top half of the ladder.
“We had definitely suffered a ‘slump’ of sorts mid season, which is not uncommon and I doubt I’ve ever had a team that hasn’t gone through that kind of thing.
“We weren’t moving the ball enough and weren’t reading our opportunities enough and certainly weren’t taking the calculated risks that had been so valuable early in the year.
“Those were all areas we were good in against Blackburn. Jacinta Scott had 26 points and Haylee Cooper-Maclean had 14 and both shot at well above 70 per cent.
“The interior defence played by Sarah Mellington and Gemma Jackson on Blackburn’s 6’3” centre was huge in the win.”
The Panthers won both their matches against Mornington during the season and coupled with their good form, believe they can get the job done in finals.
“I feel we play a type of game that is difficult for them to stop,” Taylor said.
“That said, Mornington are a very strong inside team and their star forward Patrice McKenzie will take some stopping
“ I expect big games from Sarah Scott and Jayda Hunter as well, both in good form and capable of turning a game for us while Sage Dickinson has also been a revelation for us in the second half of the year with her defence, rebounding and attack on the basket.
While most of the attention is on finals, the Panthers have started planning for next season, with Sarah Scott re-signing.
Taylor said Scott had been outstanding in her first season at Wallan, which included stepping up to a starting role at senior level.
“She’s started every game and she has applied her experience and court smarts to lead from the front and consistently sets a high standard for herself and her teammates.
“Without doubt the premier defender in the competition, Sarah has consistently held the league’s most potent offensive threats to meagre games which have had a huge impact on our win-loss record over the season.”